Taking on feral cats

"Have a heart" traps are used to capture feral cats so they can be spayed or neutered by Scruff.

"Have a heart" traps are used to capture feral cats so they can be spayed or neutered by Scruff. Submitted Photo

— Each year, Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Colonie, donates his salary to the community, and this year a portion of it is going to the cats.

In the Town of Colonie alone, there are an estimated 200,000 feral cats and with $1,000 of Reilly’s 2012 salary, Spaying Capital Region Un-owned Feral Felines (Scruff) can make a dent in sterilizing that population.

“It’s extremely helpful because we’re an all-volunteer run organization and we operate off of donations of individuals,” said Dr. Roger Blankfein, a veterinarian at Lansingburgh Veterinary Hospital who is on the Scruff board of directors.

Over the years, Reilly has donated more than $467,000 to charities in Colonie, Clifton Park and Halfmoon, but this is the first time Scruff has been selected as a grant recipient. It’s one of 19 groups to receive money this year.

Scruff works to spay or neuter feral cats around the Capital District and has treated more than 1,900 since its inception in 2007. It averages about 450 a year.

“It’s probably the only organization in the greater Capital Region dedicated specifically to addressing the problem of feral cats. … Scruff is the only one that has been doing it specifically to address the feral cat problem humanely with trap, neuter, vaccinate, return versus some other strategies which have proven to not be effective,” said Blankfein.

Many feral cats that are brought to humane societies are housed for a certain number of days to give a potential owner the chance to claim it. If they remain homeless, many are euthanized.

“That costs the shelter a lot of money,” said Blankfein.

Scruff, on the other hand, uses the vacuum method. That means residents set traps lent out by the organization and bring the captured felines to a designated veterinary hospital on a scheduled day, where the cat is spayed or neutered and then returned to the area it came from.

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